Tagged with " social interactions"

What to Look for When Adopting a Kitten

Oct 24, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

The excitement surrounding the decision to bring a kitten into your household is only surpassed by the act itself. When choosing your kitten, some knowledge of kitten development or socialization will help you pick the best kitten for your family.

Socialization in kittens begins at 2-9 weeks of age. During this period gentle handling by people helps kittens build self- confidence, while learning to interact with other animals and people. This experience will carry over into other social situations throughout the cat’s life. If kittens have not been properly socialized, they are at increased risk to develop negative traits: They are more likely to be fearful of human contact and to be less able to adjust to unfamiliar situations. For example, a cat who is as gentle as a lamb at home, may become a ferocious tiger at the veterinary clinic.

When choosing a kitten, it is easy to be swayed by a beautiful coat, color or markings . It is also tempting to choose a kitten by sex. Yet, the most important trait is temperament. Here are a few guidelines to maximize a successful introduction and to prepare your newest member for a lifelong place in your family. Whether you adopt a kitten from a private family or shelter, or purchase a kitten from a pet store or breeder, it would be ideal if you could observe the kitten interact with its siblings. Kittens learn much from playing with each other.

The little mewing of “Ouch, you’re hurting me” as one kitten is chomping on another kitten’s ear, begins the feedback to learn what is too painful for play. Watch the kittens carefully: Which kittens are actively engaged in play with each other? When you meet them, who comes up to explore? If you pick up a kitten does it nuzzle into your arms, crawl up your shirt, or otherwise give indications that it is comfortable being held? These behaviors (exploration, play and a willingness to be held) indicate that the kitten has been well socialized.

Now the rest is up to you. Construct an environment in which your kitten will flourish. Teach your kitten the proper way to play. Do not use your hands as a toy. Having an eight or ten week old kitten chew on your fingers may seem harmless; the same behavior in an adult cat will be painful. Always hold something in your hand when playing, even if it is a pen, to reinforce that your body is not a plaything. Cat play is often aggressive. It is often initiated by one kitten leaping up and biting another and running away in hopes of being pursued. This is how your kitten expects you to behave when it begins a game of “ankle attack” as you walk down the hallway. Do not respond: have a toy to redirect his attention. Schedule regular play time. Keep in mind that cats are nocturnal. Many of our feline friends get what I call the “ten o’clock crazies” – just when you are ready for sleep, 15 minutes of energetic play in the late evening will help defuse potential kitten trouble and let you get a good night’s sleep.

Take your kitten for rides in the car in its carrier. This will expand his confidence by making the carrier and the car familiar parts of his routine instead of the vehicle whose only purpose is to transport him from the safety and security of home to anxiety and unfamiliarity of the veterinarian’s office. Carriers should be brought out on a regular basis to be explored with no imminent trip scheduled. Place treats in the back of the carrier, leave the door open and walk away. What a pleasant surprise as the kitten explores the “new space” and discovers it contains treasures. When the time comes for a veterinary visit, the carrier and the car will be tranquil extensions of home which will allow the kitten to arrive in a secure state of mind. These kitten visits are good times to make sure your new family member is growing well both physically and emotionally. They also offer you the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional guidance

Nevertheless, kittens or cats who have not had good early socialization, can be guided along the path to a healthy happy relationship with the humans in their lives. Those strategies will be discussed in my next blog post.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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10 Things Your Cat Wants You to Know

Jan 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

  1. I like fleece more than any other bedding material. And there is research to prove that cats prefer fleece over towels and other bedding material.
  2. Even if I hate the other cats in our home, I usually won’t get into a cat fight with them. Instead I will try to avoid them, even if it means that I need to pee on the carpet instead of passing them to get to the litter box. That’s because I need to keep myself protected and healthy just as my wild ancestors did because I am a great hunter.
  3. If I pee on your carpet, clothes, or bed, please, please, please don’t get rid of me at least until you have taken me to the vet to make sure I am not sick. If I am not sick, please talk to a vet who knows a lot about cat behavior or a behaviorist about what kind of litter and litter boxes I want, and how to give me space away from that other cat you love and I hate, or whatever else is upsetting me.
  4. If I am like most cats, I get bored and pudgy (58% of cats in the US are overweight or obese!) if I don’t work for my food. I am a great hunter, and I like to chase my kibbles, find hidden kibbles, and eat canned food. You might think canned food is like a treat, but it really is closer to what my wild ancestors ate (I am trying not to gross you out, but that is mice), and is much lower in calories because it is 70-80% water. I may act like I want to eat all the time, but that is because in the wild, I spent most of my time hunting and a much smaller time eating. If you take my hunting away – chasing food, finding it in hidden places, frequent and small meals a day – I eat more, and I may beg for more, but really I want more hunt, which can also be called play. Please don’t make me pudgy – you may think I look cute, but it makes me sluggish, and I don’t want to be diabetic. There has been a 16% increase in diabetes in cats between 2006 and 2010 because we have become so pudgy. Cat vets – and many others – know about safe weight loss (losing weight quickly can make cats so sick that it can be deadly). Please help me!
  5. If I lick to groom another cat or they lick me, or if we cuddle or sleep together, we are bonded and like each other. However, even best buds nead their space, and approximately 50% of the time, I like to be alone. And I often don’t want to sleep with my buddy in the hot summer – yuck! One fur coat is enough!
  6. I absolutely hate it when you say I am old! There are people who are healthy in mind and body into the 90s and 100s even! If I am slowing down, I am in pain from arthritis or something else, or I am sick. Please take me to the vet no matter how hard I resist. And if they can’t help, find a vet that can!
  7. My favorite toy is a USED hair ‘scrunchy’ or pony tail holder. Don’t worry if you are a guy, bald, or with very short hair. Just rub it on your head and get your scent on it and voila – it is a used scrunchy! Please note that if I like to eat things other than food that the scrunchy should be tied onto a string and only used when you help me play with it.
  8. I don’t cough up hairballs on a routine basis – see Why does my Cat Vomit? and Hairballs. It may happen once a month or two (don’t laugh, my hairless Sphynx friends!), but more frequently than that and there is something wrong. If it is right after eating, I eat too fast, and all you need to do is spread my food out on a flat plate so that I don’t mow it down too fast. But if I continue or it isn’t related to that, it’s likely that I have a health problem, and need a vet to help.
  9. As a cat, I am supposed to appear healthy to protect myself from dangers, including bigger hunters than me. So even though I act like I don’t want to go to the vet, it is because I hate change – unless I instigate it! – and I am scared (and I may act tough because I don’t want anyone else to know it!). I want to be with you forever or at least as long as possible and always be comfortable and happy, so please take me to the vet to learn how to prevent the health problems that I don’t need to have including those awful bugs and worms, and to control health problems that I may get, and make sure I am never in pain. I am purrfect and don’t deserve to ever be in pain.
  10. I love you when you do what I love, and because you are awesome!

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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Are Cats Social?

Aug 18, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Those of us that live with and love cats know that cats are different from dogs, people, and other species. We also recognize that cats can be important family members, friends, companions, and even “the love of our life”. The cat’s social structure is sufficiently different from ours that it was once thought that cats were not social animals. We now know that cats are indeed social, just different.

The cat’s social structure usually consists of related females cooperatively caring for kittens in a colony. Many of the adult males leave the colony and may remain solitary; some will try to integrate into a colony, which can take a very long time of slow and gradual introductions.

Cats choose with whom to be social and when. When we understand that social groupings usually consist of queens and kittens, it makes good sense to adopt littermates or siblings together. These kittens already have a great social group and are much more likely to be “best buds for life”. Being the same age, they can play rough together, without a younger cat hurting an older cat. The next best choice is a kitten and the mother cat.

Trying to introduce different cats to each other is like a solitary cat trying to integrate into a colony – the introduction needs to be very slow and gradual. Even if the cats live together without hissing or fighting, they may pass each other without any interest to sleep together or play together – or they may choose to become great friends just as mine did. The rule with cats from different families though is they need to choice; if we try to force them to be friends, it will backfire.

How can you tell if your cats are friends (called “affiliates” in veterinary medicine)? Cats that like each other rub against each other, and often sleep or rest together. They also lick each other, preferably on the head and neck. (see pictures) In fact, when introducing ourselves to a cat, it’s best to massage in front of the ears, under the chin, or on the cheeks. But first let the cat come to you and then do so; forcing them, will greatly delay the loving relationship.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
Facebook: Profile Page
Directions: Google | MapQuest | Yahoo!

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Golden Years Cats: Making Their Lives Long, Happy and Healthy!

Jun 12, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Time slips by more quickly for our pets than for us. One day we realize that our favorite cute kitty is now a senior citizen. What can we do to help them “live long and prosper”?

Just like for people, nutrition, exercise, medical care, social interactions and environmental modifications improve and optimize our senior cats lives.

Nutrition: many elderly cats have metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes and do best on a prescription diet targeted toward controlling these diseases. Arthritis is common in older cats and a food high in anti-inflammatory fatty acids such as Hill’s J/D reduces pain and improves mobility. Canned foods increase water consumption and can help prevent constipation and are often more palatable for finicky elderly cats tastes. Increasing the variety of canned foods and warming the food a little can also tempt the appetite of debilitated senior cats. When constipation is significant, adding ¼ tsp. of Miralax over the counter stool softener can help (consult your veterinarian first before starting the Miralax).

Exercise and environmental modifications: the less elderly cats move, the harder it can be for them to maintain their muscle mass and flexibility. Encourage your cat to play using laser pointers, fishing pole type toys, and other interactive toys. Put step stools or chairs out next to beds and windows to help them jump up and down to favorite places. Make sure litter boxes and food and water bowls are easily accessible. Litter boxes should be low enough that the kitty can get in and out of easily. Try to avoid covered litter boxes, as they can be awkward for arthritic kitties to use without bumping their heads. Heated cat beds can soothe aching joints, and make winter temperatures or an air-conditioned home more comfortable for senior cats.

Medical Care: since elderly cats develop many of the same aging health problems that we have, we can greatly improve both the quality and length of their lives with good medical care. It would be nice if our cats could talk to us and tell us how they feel. They can’t. Our senior cats need to be examined and have lab tests taken every 6 months. Given their rapid aging, this is equivalent to every 3-4 years for a human! Many health problems can be prevented, cured, or managed effectively with early intervention. Your cat cannot tell you it is painful, has kidney or dental disease, or arthritis. Your veterinarian can detect those problems and help.

Social interactions: your senior cat may not seek out attention as much as younger cags in the household. They may be marginalized by the other cats in the household and do not have the energy to fight for attention Try to spend 10 minutes twice a day giving extra attention to your senior cat. You will both enjoy it, and it will make the quality of both your lives better!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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